Social media and social networking have taken the world by storm. From the individual frequently updating details of their daily activities, to companies using it as a promotion tool for winning new business and maintaining healthy relationships with their customers, we see this form of engagement catapulting its way to the forefront of our daily lives. As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to the trends and changes within the environment, social media and social networking blazes its way into organisations, becoming a key functional area, embedded into corporate strategies.
-Target, America’s third largest retailer and fast-growing social brand, uses social media to send customized posts based on users’ locations as well as a digital coupon dispenser.
-Global telecommunications provider Sprint, has two Facebook pages: 1 page which provides special offers and discussion boards and another which offers free ringtones.
All companies should keep the following in mind when embarking on a social media/networking strategy:
-What goal does my company’s social networking page and content aim for?
-What tone should be conveyed in each post?
-Who am I trying to attract?
-Remember the principles of good grammar and punctuation.
So how do you effectively tailor your content to ensure optimal exposure across the various social networks your company employs? Let’s explore the topic by looking at what we’ve termed as the 4P’s of SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.
One must have an immediate impact with the content being delivered. Posting content on social networking sites has as its biggest limitation; the number of characters allotted in a single post. Twitter is a prime example, where bloggers are restricted to a maximum of 140 characters to convey a single thought or message to the audience. This means that there is no room for the ‘flowery’ language and fillers that we have become accustomed to in our everyday writing. Content needs to be precise and straight to the point. Facebook in recent years became more lenient with its character limitations. From its inception, users were allotted character limits of 160 to 420 (in 2009) to 500 (in 2011) to 5,000 (in 2011) and finally over 60,000 (late 2011). Though content bloggers or ‘facebookers’ enjoy this increase, businesses need to bear in mind that only a brief portion of this high-character content appears within the news feed update of the reader/subscriber. This means that within at least 100 characters (spaces included), you need to be precise and punchy, inspiring the reader to perform the call to action of clicking the continue to read more option, be it on the same network or through the provision of a back-link to an article or blog site, where there is more freedom with your discourse.
When implementing a social media/networking strategy, keep in mind that this is your company’s opportunity to get deeply involved with its clients and community on a level that inspires high round-the-clock engagement as well as the possibility of positive consumer/buyer actions. That being the case, one must present the company as being personable. After-all, its social media; ‘let’s get social’.
One’s approach should be to have a pleasant online appearance and manner, adopting a soft sell strategy rather than a hard sell, where readers/followers/fans are engaged by asking thought provoking questions, guaranteed to spark interesting page or forum discussions. Be an available resource for any questions or queries posed by your online community, always willing to offer help when it is needed and if you are unable to provide an immediate solution or answer directly, be eagerly willing to seek the information or refer to a relevant third party.
It is okay to share the content of others on your page. Your business like its followers will have varying interests. Part of adopting a personable approach would be to show your community that you both have similar interests. Provide interesting links to blogs or media about topics that are related to your company’s operations. A department store distributor like PC Richard & Sons carrying a wide range of computer or electronic brands maybe likely to share content from a software developer’s page for example Apple or Microsoft because of the hand-in-hand complement that one lends to the other’s operations.
Highlight your page’s achievements. When your company page has reached a milestone in the number of followers, likes/shares, make mention of the achievement. Also highlight accomplishments of your company as well as staff. Take the opportunity through this platform to showcase your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
“Offer engaging, compelling, relevant, conversation provoking content”.
Any content posted is done under the objectives of attaining the following actions:
-Like your page/post/blog
-Leave a comment
-Share the content
-Visit a website
The bottom line of it all is that your social media/networking strategy will only be successful if the information being shared is compelling and interesting enough to drive positive as well as profitable consumer action. That said, you should know your community. What topics best attract the type of follower you will be catering to? How regular do you intend to offer content to these persons?
Wherever possible, write content in the active voice rather than the passive voice. Adopting this type of style makes your content a lot stronger by giving credit to an action, plus you use fewer words to convey messages.
PUNCTUATION & Grammar
While you adapt a personal somewhat informal approach, this becomes no excuse for obvious use of incorrect punctuation and grammar. As mentioned before, the issue of character limits may restrict an individual from fully punctuating a post as needed. To remedy this, use abbreviations:
-Contractions: Abbreviated versions of a word or words. For example: replacing missing letters with an apostrophe:- don’t, can’t, shouldn’t, he’s
-Compressing words: Mr., Dr., Prof., Rev.
-Initialism: abbreviations that are pronounced one letter at a time. Example: FBI, HTML, IBM, DVD
-Acronyms: these are abbreviations that are pronounced as words
Remember, when using acronyms and abbreviations only use those that are highly recognized by your community. No one wants to read a post and not understand what they are reading. In addition, let’s not overuse abbreviations in one single post. Can you imagine reading a single thought written fully in an abbreviated form? I can’t either.
However, there maybe instances where standard punctuation and incorrect use of grammar could be accepted. In countries or communities where there is a strong national language or dialect, it may work in a company’s favour to post content using local languages or vernacular to appeal to nationalistic senses of your community. This works only in cases where the community spans over a relatively small geographic area as opposed to global companies with global brands. Be that as it may, whether you write using the standard form of English or a dialect, there are fundamentals that guide its use.
Author: Dexter R. Norville, Director Marketing (KPI Connect)